The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) turns 45 this year, begetting the need to appreciate the Sentinel of West Africa. Founded in Lagos on the 28th of May 1975, ECOWAS was established as a means to an economic and monetary union of West African states. Its main aim was to ensure the economic growth and development of the region by fostering cooperation and integration between member states. These top 3 achievements have served as a tool towards achieving the community’s vision for a prosperous West Africa:
1. Establishment of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI):
Created in Accra, Ghana in January 2001, the Institute began operation in March of the same year, setting up and monitoring quantitative and qualitative benchmarks for economic expansion. It also facilitates trade and financial sector integration, payments system development and statistical harmonization. It also spearheads the technical preparations for establishing a common West African Central Bank and the launching of a single currency for the West African Monetary Zone.
2. Trade and Market Integration:
The raison d’etre of the ECOWAS has always been centred around the freedom of trade and commerce within the region. To this effect, the community has made giant strides through the removal of trade barriers between member states, coordinating trade policies to establish a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market all for the good of the monetary and economic union of West Africa.
3. Road networks between Commercial Cities:
With the freedom of commerce comes the necessity to move goods and people across borders. The ECOWAS has initiated the construction of highways between major cities to facilitate transportation and consequently commercial activities. These projects include the Lagos-Abidjan highway, Nouakchott-Lagos and Elubo – Alflao – Lagos road networks.
4. Preserving relations between Anglophone and Francophone countries through the introduction of the ECOWAS Passport.
5. Political Stabilization and surveillance between member states by the establishment of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG)